Elateridae of the British Isles


The Elateridae are a family within the insect Order Coleoptera (Beetles). The beetles are the largest insect order in the world with around 350,000 species currently described – 40% of all insects known to science.

4000 beetle species occur in Britain, of these 73 belong to the Elateridae.

The family Elateridae is placed within the Superfamily Elateroidea, which also includes the closely related Eucnemidae Eschscholtz, 1829, Throscidae Laporte, 1840, Drilidae Blanchard, 1845, Lycidae Laporte, 1836, Lampyridae Latreille, 1817 and Cantharidae Imhoff, 1856.

The taxonomy of the Elateridae is as follows-

Kingdom – Animalia Linnaeus, 1758
Phylum – Arthropoda Latreille, 1829
Class – Insecta Linnaeus, 1758
Order – Coleoptera Linnaeus, 1758
Superfamily – Elateroidea Leach, 1815
Family – Elateridae Leach, 1815

The name Elateridae is likely to come from the Latin ‘efferre’, meaning to raise. This refers to the beetles ability to flick themselves into the air to right themselves or avoid predation.

In Britain the Elateridae comprises 7 Subfamilies with 38 genera, the largest of which is Ampedus, with 13 species.

Vernacular Names

A number of species have aquired English names. None are standardised and should therefore be used with caution. It is recommended that scientific names (following Duff, 2008) are always used in preference to English names.  

Lacon querceus  – Oak Click Beetle.

Actenicerus sjaelandicus – Marsh Click Beetle.

Anostirus castaneus – Chestnut Coloured Click Beetle.

Prosternon tesselatum – Chequered Click Beetle.

Selatosomus aeneus – Brilliant Click Beetle.

Limoniscus violaceus – Violet Click Beetle.

Synaptus filiformis – Hairy Click Beetle.

Agriotes lineatus – Common Click Beetle, Striped Click Beetle.

Agriotes obscurus – Dusky Wireworm Beetle.

Agriotes sputator – Common Click Beetle.

Ampedus cardinalis – Cardinal Click Beetle.

Ampedus rufipennis – Red-horned Cardinal Click Beetle.

Melanotus punctolineatus – Sandwich Click Beetle.